Friday, November 4, 2011

Battered But Not Beaten (Yet)

On Saturday, I decided to get in a good walk, since I wasn't sure what the next few days might hold. I believed that I would be just about able to miss the beginning of the storm. I was almost right; I only missed it by about half an hour. I walked a little more than eight miles, and toward the end of that time, it began to rain. At first it was light, barely a sprinkle. The last fifteen minutes or so it was a downpour. I was soaked. I've been wet before, so that didn't trouble me overmuch... I got into the car, hoping the heater would warm me up. Long before I was warm, we smelled exhaust, and assumed we were pulling it in from the car ahead of us. That car went away, and we still smelled exhaust.

It soon became painfully obvious that our own exhaust system was leaking, and the only way to continue safely was to open the windows. I was soaking wet, it was cold outside, and everything that could possibly happen to slow us down did happen. By the time we got home, I was as cold as I've ever been in my life. On top of that, the car was having more and more difficulty running, and it became obvious we'd need to have it towed for a repair before we could use it again. I inhaled a nice warm pizza, and gulped the hottest hot chocolate I could bear to swallow. Finally, I began to thaw, about the time it began snowing. The power flickered a few times, but stayed on until we went to bed. It went out very shortly after that, and the house started cooling off.

I managed to endure the next day, Sunday, fairly well, even though we were unable to go out. The main street we live off was totally blocked, and the side street that leads from it to our house was closed. I walked down, but there were branches down everywhere, and wires on the ground, so I didn't dare approach too closely. There is a back way out, but our car was just not up to the task. Still, some warmth remained in the house, so it wasn't too bad. On Monday, I walked down to take a better look. Trees had toppled, several poles snapped off, and there were wires and even a transformer scattered in the middle of the street. The main wires that served much of our end of the town were involved, as well as the wires leading off that to our street.

I took a bit of a walk, which helped warm me up, but spent the rest of the time huddled in the house, wearing sweaters and jackets. We had no heat, no hot water, no stove, so it was tough. They had no loaner car available at our garage, so we couldn't even do anything about the car. And seeking out a shelter wasn't really an option, not with two cats. We did have friends who delivered a few thermoses of hot water and a nice, hot roasted chicken. We devoured that while it was still warm, and gave the scraps to the cats, who were as anxious for something that wasn't cold as we were. I walked down that night, and there was - finally - a power truck parked by the downed wires. They looked them over, shone lights here and there, and drove off. My heart nearly broke. Sleeping was difficult.

Tuesday was the first day of NaNo, so I had over sixteen hundred words to write if I didn't want to fall behind. I grabbed the first pen I could lay hands on that was inked up, one that I didn't mind using with fingers somewhat numb from the chill. I figured I could always use, and post about, more interesting pens later. Somehow, I made my goal. We also managed to have our car towed off and exchange it for a loaner. We went out and found someplace that already had power, and got hot chocolate and hot food. That was a bigger deal than starting the novel. Power trucks were working down the street, but they appeared to be making little progress. By evening, the power was still out, and the men were just standing around.

We went out for the evening, and when we came back, the power was back on. While that was a wonderful moment - light, and heat! - it did have its pitfalls. Every surface in the house had cooled down. We have steam heat, and with the house so cold, it laboured to take off the chill. The vent that happened to be convenient for the excess steam to escape was the wrong one from my perspective. My computer, monitor, and a number of other things were literally dripping with condensation when I discovered the problem. We wiped everything down, but since I had no way of knowing just how far the moisture had penetrated, I felt I had no choice but to wait more than forty eight hours to give everything time to dry out before I checked to see if it was damaged.

An unrelated issue caused me to get almost no sleep last night. I was finally able to plug in my computer, and connected to the internet for the first time in days just an hour ago. Everything I've checked so far seems to be fine, although I'm most worried about an external hard drive with a huge amount of data on it that I haven't yet had time to warm up and check out. I am, so far, on schedule, and I've used some very interesting pens and inks. I have photos (I even have some photos of the storm damage), but I haven't had the time to transfer them to the computer yet. I haven't written my daily word count for today yet, either. And I'm going to need to get to bed early.

So I hope to start posting as I'm able to find the time. But we're still getting back to normal, and tomorrow we'll have to spend a lot of time shopping and restocking things we dare not go without. I don't know how long it is going to take me to catch up, but I ask you to please be patient. Since both writing posts and posting photos takes up time, I may post about my experience, then add the photos later, or I may try to add them as I write the post. I'm just not sure right now. I do want to offer a very big thank you to those of you who commented; it is encouraging to know that someone out there is reading these words and rooting for me.

As for the last word in the title of this post, I'm not giving up. But I also don't feel confident enough to dare boast. I'm not beaten, and I hope to keep going, but I have just lived through a huge reminder that not everything is within my control. The view out my window is still littered with numerous branches that still boast green leaves, even though they've been snapped from the trees. There are crews down working in the area where the worst damage to the wires happened; it seems that the repairs to date were only temporary ones. So I can't even be sure they won't switch our power off without any warning, for an hour or two.

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